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Thread: Woman needs help!

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Carolina's Avatar
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    Default Woman needs help!

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to this forum, and I urgently need advice ! Sewage rose in my shower drain, bathtub, and from the base of two toilets on the first floor of my townhouse. Prior to this happening, I heard gurgling sounds in my kitchen and bathroom, and the toilets were clogged that day. I had to call an emergency plumber at 11pm to stop the sewage flow from ruining my floors.

    He took the cap off from the cleanout outside which relieved the pressure. He cleaned out the cleanout and ran a video cam. He discovered a belly beneath my cement slab of about 3-4 feet and a break in the sewage drainage pipe. He recommended jackhammering the floor and replacing about 7' of pvc pipe.

    My home warranty plumber came out the next day and ran a cam too. He said it may be a slight separation or bushing instead of a break. But he said there are 2 bellies - one below the cement slab and the other in the cleanout outside because there is standing water. His recommendation is to replace 12' of pipe that extends outside to include the cleanout because the pipe needs to be laid level. Currently my drainage pipe goes down from my toilet, hits the belly and then comes up clear to the cleanout outside. Then it dips down again to the main sewer line. So he recommends getting rid of that "hill" by laying the pipe flat and thus avoiding another problem in the future.

    Unfortunately I can't go with either plumber because they only have general liability but not workers comp (NC does not require workers comp for business with 3 or fewer employees).

    My question is: Do you agree with their assessments? How should this job be handled and what should it cost? I need to justify it to my homeowners insurance which will cover access to the pipe and pouring back cement but not the repair or pipe replacement itself. Also I have an HOA. In your experience, has HOA insurance covered this type of work since this is a significant section of pipe in its sewer system?

    Thank you so much!
    Carolina
    Last edited by Carolina; 07-09-2011 at 07:23 AM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Well at least two different plumbers have come up with the same diagnosis so I don't think anyone is trying to swindle you into doing something for nothing. You should have the floor broken up and ALL of the bad piping replaced or you are just going to chase this problem for years to come. As far as cost, get three estimates and go with the middle guy. In all good faith I don't think it would be fair for anyone to shoot a price at you because every job is different. You will need to call your insurance company for the particulars. As always the coverage depends on your policy.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Carolina's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    I was willing to go with either of plumber, but neither carry workers comp so that's why I'm still looking. I've called different places and have gotten different approaches to the job. My original plumber recommended PVC, 4-inch cupling and 4-inch Y. Another suggested replacing it with foam core pipe and no-hub band, but then he offered as an alternative gluing Schedule 40 PVC and not use any sleeve. Yet another said replace it with Schedule 40 PVC and sleeve with metal clamps. Which is the best approach?

    Also, should a P-I licensed master plumber do this job or is it okay for a P-II licensed journeyman to do it without supervision from a master plumber?

    Plus, should I go with a permit? Some plumbers discourage it, but one said they insist on it if replacing more than 5' pipe. I'm confused because when I called the permit office, they said I definitely need a permit. When I called the code enforcement office, they said I don't need one because it's a repair.

    Lastly, is it standard protocol for a plumber to charge the same hourly rate to wait for the inspector to show up onsite? One estimate includes 5 hours of labor to wait for an inspector. What do you think?
    Last edited by Carolina; 07-09-2011 at 08:11 AM.

  4. #4
    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    The repair itself is easy,
    so either the P-I or P-II is capable.
    This is a standard repair that is done day in and day out. Fixing the pipe is easy, hard part is getting to it....

    As for materials I'm in California and all we seem to use is ABS cellular material, I like it and trust it.
    PVC is used elsewhere and seems to be a quality material so should be fine as well.

    As for the permit, yes get one. It is important for there to be a check on the plumbers.

    As for the five hours, seems like you have already started the process,
    why don't get the permit and meet with the building inspector. If there is nothing wrong with their work then it should not matter, wheither you or the plumbing contractor are there for the inspection. For a lot of my jobs the inspector shows up when no one is around, I can't aford to kill a day sitting there waiting on them. They sign the inspection card which is posted at the job site, and done.
    Michael
    Michael
    Sac City Plumbing
    http://SacCityPlumbing.com

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Carolina's Avatar
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    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your feedback! I'm relieved to hear that this is a straightforward job. Would you recommend gluing ABS or PVC pipe to repair?
    Regarding access to the pipe, 2 plumbers said they can jackhammer the floor, and 2 other plumbers said they would use an electrical saw and then jackhammer the concrete pieces. Which option do you prefer?

    I'm glad you endorse the permit idea. If by any chance shoddy construction work is at fault for this sewage drainage pipe break, what do you think the inspector's recommendation may be?

    I didn't start the process yet. I asked for an itemized estimate with a turnkey quote. When I asked him if he could just take the day off and not charge me for waiting for the inspector to show up, he said that he would be losing business that day and therefore would need to be compensated. Do you charge for that day off the project?

    Hopeful
    Carolina
    Last edited by Carolina; 07-09-2011 at 09:26 AM.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Personally, I would NOT agree with either one until I either ran my own camera or saw a DVD of the situation. From your description NEITHER belly sounds bad enough to have caused your problem, but if they are the cause, you should NOT do anything until you find out if there is adequate fall between where the first one is and after the second one. Digging up the belly does NOT ensure that the solution is just to install a new piece of pipe to replace it. In fact that repair may NOT cure the problem if it is caused by the original installation, not from the pipe settling. I charge the same rate for ALL the time expended on the job, although it is not always necessary to be there when the inspector comes.

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